Crew 5 - Assigned 752nd Squadron - October 1943
(Photo: Margaret Wilster)
|Capt||John L Weber||025522||Pilot||Aug-44||CT||Awards - Distinguished Flying Cross|
|1Lt||Calvin W Miller||0886835||Co-pilot||Aug-44||CT||Awards - Distinguished Flying Cross|
|Capt||Robert H Lawrence||0811087||Navigator||06-Sep-44||CT||Asst Sta & Grp Navigator|
|Capt||John J Provenzano||0688409||Bombardier||06-Sep-44||CT||Asst Sta & Grp Bombardier|
|S/Sgt||Burton O Brown||31253145||Radar Observer (865)||30-Mar-45||CT||Suspended fr flying UP AAF Reg 35-16|
|T/Sgt||Raymond A Harrigfeld||17030619||Flight Engineer||Aug-44||CT||Awards - Distinguished Flying Cross|
|S/Sgt||John S Galazin||13026246||Aerial Gunner||01-Nov-44||CT||Awards - Distinguished Flying Cross|
|S/Sgt||John A Wilster||3551291||Aerial Gunner/2E||Aug-44||CT||Awards - Distinguished Flying Cross|
|S/Sgt||Herbert Flowers||34689528||Armorer-Gunner||Aug-44||CT||Awards - Distinguished Flying Cross|
|T/Sgt||Raymond B Callahan||32717147||Armorer-Gunner||Aug-44||CT||Awards - Distinguished Flying Cross|
Most of Crew 5, commanded by 1Lt John L. Weber, a West Point graduate, was formed at Gowen Field, Boise, ID in September 1943 and received movement orders to Wendover Field, UT on October 5th and from there proceeded to Tonopah Army Air Field in Nevada. At Tonopah, where the 458th BG was training its crews for deployment overseas, members of the crew from Gowen were joined by the co-pilot, navigator, and one gunner. After two months of combat crew training, the air echelon of the 458th moved via the Southern Ferry Route to the European Theater and Horsham St Faith (AAF123) in England, most of the crews arriving in late January and early February 1944.
After several weeks of practice flying, “camera” bombing runs on The Wash, and experiencing the English weather, the group flew a pair of diversionary missions on February 24th and 25th in support of “Big Week”. Weber and crew flew the group deputy lead on February 25th out into the North Sea towards the coast of Holland in an attempt to draw the Luftwaffe from the main 8th AF attacking force hitting targets in Germany.
The 458th’s first combat mission was on March 2, 1944 and the crew flew the Liberator that would carry them over the continent on 26 of the 33 missions that Weber is credited with. This was B-24J-95-CO 42-100365 which would eventually carry the 752nd Squadron code “7V” and call letter “B”. [Evidence points to the name of this aircraft as Wolfgang. It is believed that the artwork was removed so as not to be detrimental to the crew if they happened to be shot down in Germany]. On March 5th, the crew, flying their second mission, would lead the group to Bordeaux, France. Throughout March 1944 Weber flew seven missions, three of them group leads.
In April the crew would fly 10 combat missions. The late afternoon raid on the marshalling yards at Hamm on April 22nd, if not one of the toughest the group had flown to date, was certainly the most nerve-wracking. Takeoff time was 4:30 PM, which would have the aircraft returning around 10:00PM in the dark. Weber flew in the lead section, on the far left on this mission. This first section, due to navigational difficulties after the group’s Initial Point (IP) was forced to bypass the primary target of Hamm and head for Koblenz. One aircraft in this section from the 753rd squadron, piloted by Lt George Spaven, would be shot down by an FW 190 after suffering flak damage. The group’s second section was able to bomb the marshalling yards successfully.
As the Liberators of the 2nd Division crossed the English coast on the return to base, German night fighters took advantage of the darkness and came slashing through the unsuspecting formations damaging several bombers on their first pass. The 458th was ordered to fly a northerly course over the North Sea and those aircraft that could complied with this order. The aircraft of Lt. Teague Harris and Lt Charles “Red” Stilson were downed near Norwich with nine men killed between the two crews. The remaining Liberators of the group landed late at Horsham. In all, the 2nd Bombardment Division lost 17 Liberators over England that night.
The crew flew 11 missions in May, but
only four in June, including the first of three missions that the group
would fly on June 6th, D-Day. Weber was leading the second section with
Major John A. Hensler as command pilot. The group dropped their bombs
on their target behind the beaches, but could not observe the results
due to 10/10 cloud cover. Another four missions were flown in July and
Weber is shown flying his final mission on August 1, 1944, which
happened to be the 458th’s 100th combat mission. The crew flew a
natural metal finish (NMF) B-24J named Open Post on this mission and
marked the occasion with a photo.
In all, Crew 5 flew eight group leads,
five deputy group leads, nine squadron leads, and three deputy squadron
leads. The crew was forced to abort only once due to a jammed elevator
trim tab. This abort was on the same mission that their trusted
aircraft, Wolfgang was lost with Lt Charles Quirk
and crew. They also were prevented from taking off on two occasions,
once due to mechanical difficulties and the second time on April 24th
when, according to group records: A/C 42-100365 Scheduled. No take off.
Brakes locked when taxiing due to riding brakes with #4 engines on.
Captain John Weber went on to help form the 2nd Scouting Force, flying missions in P-51 Mustangs, eventually returning to the States at war’s end.
Co-pilot 2Lt Calvin Miller, due to the crew’s status as a lead crew evidently flew with other crews to complete his tour. On one occasion, flying with Lt Millard Schaaf, they would abort and crash land back at Horsham.
On September 6, 1944 Lt’s Robert Lawrence and John Provenzano were appointed assistant group/station navigator and bombardier respectively. They were also both promoted to Captain in November 1944.
Two other members of the crew that had trained together in Tonopah apparently flew with other crews as well. Cpl Burton O. Brown, the crew’s radio operator, is not shown flying missions with the crew and was reclassified with MOS 754 (Radio Mechanic) on June 15, 1944. On October 16th he was again reclassified, rated as a Radio Operator. In November Sgt Brown’s MOS was changed a third time to 866 (Radar Observer). He evidently flew missions until March 1945 when he was sent on Rest Home leave. He eventually attained the rank of Staff Sergeant.
Taking his place as radio operator, and shown on the crew’s early loading lists was T/Sgt Frank B. Hanson. He is shown receiving the Air Medal in April 1944 and was awarded the DFC in August along with the rest of the crew.
S/Sgt John Galazin, gunner, flew several missions with the crew, but records indicate that he was
replaced by S/Sgt Alfred H. Malmstrom on more than one occasion. While
Galazin did complete a combat tour, he apparently finished flying in
November and was awarded the DFC. Malmstrom may have been a regular
member of the crew as his name appears on several sets of orders along
with the rest of the enlisted men. According to an article written about the July 2, 1944 NOBALL raid by war correspondent, Colin Bednall, who had flown with the crew on a NOBALL mission, Malmstrom, ..."holds the Legion of Merit, the Navy Cross, the Air Medal and four clusters. He has flown 22 missions with Liberators. But with the very first contingent of American airmen to reach this country after Pearl Harbour he was assigned to a Havoc Squadron in England. He flew no fewer than 66 missions with the Havocs before returning to America for a short rest."
|Date||Target||458th Msn||Pilot Msn||Cmd Pilot||Ld||Serial||RCL||Sqdn||A/C Msn||A/C Name||Comments|
|25-Feb-44||DUTCH COAST||D2||--||LaROCHE||D1||42-109812||D||7V||D2||UNKNOWN 016||Diversion Mission|
|18-Mar-44||FRIEDRICHSHAFEN||9||NTO||WRIGHT||D1||42-100311||A||7V||--||YOKUM BOY||HENSLER CROSSED OUT|
|24-Mar-44||ST. DIZIER||13||5||LaROCHE||L2||42-100311||A||7V||8||YOKUM BOY|
|24-Apr-44||LEIPHEIM A/F||26||NTO||42-100365||B||7V||--||WOLFGANG||BRAKES LOCK TAXIING|
|25-Apr-44||MANNHEIM A/F||27||12||HENSLER||L2||42-100365||B||7V||16||WOLFGANG||NAV NOSARZEWSKI|
|27-Apr-44||BONNIERES||29||13||LaROCHE||L1||42-100365||B||7V||17||WOLFGANG||EXTRA NAV - LANE|
|01-May-44||MARQUISE/MIMOYECQUES||32||16||HENSON||L3||42-100365||B||7V||20||WOLFGANG||GROSS - LEAD NAV|
|10-May-44||DIEPHOLZ||REC||--||LaROCHE||L||42-100365||B||7V||--||WOLFGANG||RECALL BEFORE EC|
|12-May-44||BOHLEN||40||ABT||42-100365||B||7V||--||WOLFGANG||#4 SUPER CHG|
|13-May-44||TUTOW A/F||41||20||FREEMAN||L||42-109812||D||7V||16||UNKNOWN 016||RAUPP - LEAD NAV|
|25-May-44||MULHOUSE M/Y||47||22||42-100311||A||7V||23||YOKUM BOY|
|27-May-44||NEUNKIRCHEN||48||23||FREEMAN||L2||42-100365||B||7V||27||WOLFGANG||NAV - GROSS|
|29-May-44||TUTOW A/F||50||24||LaROCHE||L1||42-100365||B||7V||28||WOLFGANG||NAV - GROSS|
|06-Jun-44||COASTAL AREAS||56||26||HENSLER||L2||42-100365||B||7V||30||WOLFGANG||MSN #1|
|29-Jun-44||ASCHERSLEBEN||82||28||WEBER||L||44-40126||?||Z5||10||SPITTEN KITTEN / SKY TRAMP||G. LAMERS - PILOT|
|12-Jul-44||MUNICH||89||ABT||HINCKLEY||L2||42-109812||D||7V||--||UNKNOWN 016||ELEV TRIM TABs|
|25-Jul-44||ST. LO AREA "B"||98||31||CHAMBERLAIN||L3||42-50499||F||7V||2||COOKIE/OPEN POST|
|01-Aug-44||T.O.s FRANCE||100||32||WOODWARD||L2||42-50499||F||7V||3||COOKIE/OPEN POST|
Crew 5 after a mission
(Photo: Margaret Wilster)
B-24J-95-CO 42-100365 7V B Wolfgang
Crew 5 in Wolfgang, leading the group out on March 5, 1944.
The area where the artwork was removed can barely be seen under the armor plate and navigator's window.
(Photos: George Reynolds)
Crew 5 - July or August 1944
2nd Scouting Force, August 1944
Captain John L. Weber and Major Frank B. Elliott (Air Exec)
(Photo: E. Richard Atkins)